‘He inspired me to do better’: Mayor remembers Police Chief Luther Reynolds

City announces funeral service plans
The city of Charleston has released plans for services honoring Police Chief Luther Reynolds who died Monday night.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 4:14 PM EDT|Updated: May. 23, 2023 at 7:35 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The city of Charleston has released plans for services honoring Police Chief Luther Reynolds who died Monday night.

Reynolds, 56, passed away with his family at his side less than one week after announcing he was ending his cancer treatments and entering hospice care.

A public visitation is scheduled for Sunday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at McAlister-Smith Funeral and Cremation on 2501 Bees Ferry Rd. A Celebration of Life service is scheduled for Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Seacoast Christian Community Church, located at 750 Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant.

Reynolds served as the Charleston Police Chief for five years.

Mayor John Tecklenburg called Reynolds a brother and a spiritual mentor. Tecklenburg said during the interview process Reynolds stood out because on top of his impressive resume, he showed heart. Tecklenburg said the chief’s love for the city showed up until his final moments.

“The inspiration of Luther’s determination during the last couple of years with his challenge with the cancer,” Tecklenburg said. “To get up every day, to keep on going, that determination, that resolve. So many people would have said, ‘Hey, I’m going to check out, or retire…’ He was so committed and he loved Charleston so much and he loved what he was doing so much, that I don’t think the thought ever occurred to him.”

City leaders released statements honoring the life and legacy of the beloved chief after hearing the news.

Tecklenburg said he, the police department, Reynolds’ wife and children are all grieving a great loss. The American flag at City Hall flew half-staff Tuesday in Reynolds’ honor. The mayor said in one of their last conversations, Reynolds asked to be remembered in a celebratory way.

“I’ve already had calls this morning of folks wanting to put together community facilities in his honor, programs for kids. At the end of the day Luther Reynolds was a man of action. He converted love to action,” Tecklenburg said. “So if there’s any way for us to honor Luther it’s going to be to do things that carry forth that spirit of reflecting God’s love in this world. Be it mentoring kids, or supporting community policing, or helping out in the community, showing love and respect for each other. That’s going to be the way we honor Luther Reynolds.”

Tecklenburg said that he made it a point during their time together serving the city to talk to the chief once a day. In those talks, Tecklenburg said a real friendship and partnership blossomed. The mayor said Reynold’s own definition of success was to leave things better than you found them.

“Now I have a little addition to Luther’s definition of leaving things better than you found them. And that is to inspire others to do the same. And Luther Reynolds inspired me to do better, to be a better person, to be a better mayor” Tecklenburg said.

Charleston City Council began its regular meeting Tuesday by offering up a prayer and moment of remembrance for the chief. The mayor says Reynolds’ wife and children were with him when he died. Reynolds first announced his cancer diagnosis in November of 2021. He pursued treatment and took some time off as acting head of the department, but soon returned to the work people said he loved.

Tecklenburg said he can take some comfort in knowing Reynolds is no longer physically suffering. He praised Reynold’s leadership across community events, transparency on crime, dedication to press conferences and efforts in community policing.

“Our police department is grieving, but those lessons are now ingrained in our policing and in our city by the amazing example of this man. It really became like a mindset change, a cultural change for the organization that he has been able to inspire here in Charleston,” Tecklenburg said.

Tecklenburg said in one of their final conversations, Reynolds expressed remorse that he couldn’t do more to help.

“Which in a way was heartbreaking because he is the last person that needed to have any ounce of remorse about that. He had given all and completely. It’s truly the story of a remarkable amazing human being,” Tecklenburg said.